Riding the wave of hype right up to its release date, Blizzard’s Pixar-esque version of Team Fortress 2 finally exploded out of beta in a full release. After heavy marketing, multiple short films and heavy promotion via popular streamers, Blizzard was clearly confident they had a winner on their hands with this one, and they were entirely right.
The story here revolves around a small band of heroes and villains associated with the now defunct Overwatch organisation. Despite having disbanded years ago, shadowy figures have begun to take interest with the former agents and anarchy rains across large chunks of the world. This is effectively all you need to know and all the game gives you, with extra lore is to be built upon via supplementary material. While usually this would be a black mark against such a game, the colourful variety of characters, background information and minor details found within levels does enough to bring the world to life and keep you invested.
Overwatch’s innate strength stems from the sheer variety of characters on offer. While divided up into the tried and true mix of offensive, tanking, supporting and defensive classes, no single hero is alike, with unique mechanics tailored to just about any play style. This is a game which features a Japanese bowman who can fire around corners, a mini-mecha piloted by an e-sports pro-gamer and a time displaced cockney woman after all, and each has been remarkably well balanced against another. The second you die to one frustrating hero who can repeatedly wipe the floor with your character, you can instantly switch them out for someone with an innate edge against them. While it avoids devolving into a total rock-paper-scissors affair, there are enough soft counters or useful abilities to always give you an edge if you’re on your toes. What’s more, the limited weapon variety per hero hardly hurts the game, as you’re often switching between them so often it barely registers.
When it comes to failings, there’s remarkably little to actually talk about. The closest things there might be to a genuine failing is that certain levels are weighted in favour of defensive or turret heavy classes, or that the lack of match variety might hurt its longevity overall. Beyond that though, there really is very little to criticise or truly drag down your experience.
As much the hype might inspire cynicism in many readers, Overwatch really is well worth a look and as area based shooters go. Any fan of FPS combat looking for something to put a new spin on things would do well to grab this one at the earliest opportunity.
OVERWATCH / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW